IN RE: JAMES A. MONCK II CASE NO. 96-51360

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT

EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY

LEXINGTON

IN RE:

JAMES A. MONCK II CASE NO. 96-51360

DEBRA K. MONCK

a/k/a Chip Monck

DEBTORS

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case is pending on the motion of the United States Trustee for a determination that the fee paid by the debtors to their attorney for representation in the case is excessive. The motion requests that the portion of the fee determined to be excessive be turned over to the trustee or the debtors. Title 11 U.S.C. 329; Rules 2016 and 2017, Federal Rules of Bankruptcy Procedure.

The disclosure statement of counsel indicates that prior to commencement of the case she was paid $1,000 for legal services rendered or to be rendered in the case.

The debtors filed a joint petition for relief under chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code on July 1, 1996. Their assets consist of $6,940 in personal property all of which was claimed and set apart to them as exempt. There was no contest over exemptions claimed by the debtors.

The debtors list no secured creditors, although they apparently occupy their residence under a lease-purchase agreement and lease a 1995 Toyota Corolla through World Omni Financial Corporation.

In Item 3 of the Statement of Financial Affairs to their petition the debtors indicate they pay $700 per month on the "Lease to Purchase Home" agreement and still owe $75,700 on the agreement. They indicate they pay $259 per month on the car lease agreement and still owe $5,439.00 thereon. However, neither of the entities holding these claims is listed as a creditor holding a secured or unsecured claim. They are listed as entities with whom the debtors entered into executory contracts or leases. The debtors reaffirmed the debt in the amount of $5,039.75 owed to World Omni Financial Corporation on the lease of the 1995 Toyota Corolla automobile.

The debtors listed seven creditors holding unsecured claims aggregating $50,171.97, consisting of two creditors owed medical bills totaling $7,097.73, four creditors owed credit card debt totaling $17,918.58, and a student loan in the amount of $25,155.66.

The information in Item No. 11 of the Statement of Financial Affairs to their petition suggests the debtors sold real property in Huntsville, Alabama within one year of bankruptcy. The information concerning this transaction should be listed in Item No. 10 of the Statement of Financial Affairs and explained in greater detail. It is not possible to discern from the information provided whether the debtors may remain contingently liable on the mortgages on the property.

Following the meeting of creditors held August 2, 1996 the chapter 7 trustee on August 8, 1996 filed a notice of abandonment of the estate's interest in a class action lawsuit the debtor listed as an asset. The trustee filed a report of distribution indicating this is a no asset case.

There has been no other activity in the case other than with respect to the motion presently before the court.

In rejoinder to the motion of the United States Trustee seeking a reduction of the attorney fee, counsel has filed a response accompanied by her affidavit and an itemization of the services she has performed in the case. The itemization of services indicates counsel devoted 13 hours to the case, 1.2 hours of which involved meeting with clients in preparation for the section 341 meeting (meeting of creditors) and attending the meeting. Counsel indicates she charges $100 an hour for her services. Nearly 5 hours of these services appears to have been devoted to typing and editing the petition, which the court considers to be ministerial in nature and should not be billed at the $100 per hour rate. The court notes that but for the omissions hereinabove noted the schedules and Statement of Financial Affairs to the petition are well prepared.

Based on a review of the entire record in the case, the court finds the motion of the United States Trustee should be and hereby is sustained. The fee of counsel is reduced to $850. Counsel shall forthwith refund the sum of $150 to the debtors.

Dated:

By the court -

 

____________________________

JOE LEE, CHIEF JUDGE

 

Copies to:

 

Caryn L. Belobraidich, Esq.

United States Trustee

Castil Williams, Esq.

UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT

EASTERN DISTRICT OF KENTUCKY

LEXINGTON

 

 

IN RE:

 

JAMES A. MONCK II CASE NO. 96-51360

DEBRA K. MONCK

a/k/a Chip Monck

 

DEBTORS

 

 

ORDER

 

 

In conformity with the memorandum opinion of the court this day entered, IT IS ORDERED that the motion of the U.S. Trustee for a determination that the fee paid by the debtors to their attorney, Caryn L. Belobraidich, for representation in this case is excessive is SUSTAINED. The fee of counsel is hereby reduced to the sum of $850. Counsel is directed to forthwith refund the sum of $150 to the debtors.

Dated:

By the court –

 

______________________________

JOE LEE

CHIEF JUDGE

 

Copies to:

 

Caryn L. Belobraidich, Esq.

United States Trustee

Castil Williams, Esq.